"Or you'll kill me? Apparently there will be a line." - Loki
There's an ongoing trend I've noticed in recent years, that fans of comic book movies are tired of watching their origin stories. If a popular and iconic character somehow didn't start right, or if their original time on the silver screen is outdated, it's natural to want to give the character new life in a new setting that new audiences can connect with. Plenty were skeptical of Thor before it came out in 2011. It looked odd, hokey, with copious potential for cheese. We were pleasantly surprised, so much that we couldn't wait to see the hammer-hurdling hero in The Avengers. Some might be tired of origin stories, but shouldn't we be more tired of rushed sequels that aim to cash in on fans without appearing to match - or attempt to match - the quality of their predecessors? Thor loses some of his thunder in The Dark World, but there's enough humor and action throughout to distract us from its clumsy plot and overused fantasy tropes.
Two years after Thor met Jane, the great gatekeeper, Heimdall, can no longer see her. Thor learns that a mysterious substance called the Aether has seeped into Jane's body, drawing on her life force and threatening to end her life. This same substance is being sought by the dreaded dark elf, Malekith, who wishes to use it to plunge the universe into an eternal darkness, for no reason. Taking Jane to the dark world will save Asgard and give Thor a chance to destroy the Aether, but only one can get there against Odin's wishes: Loki.
Among the film's finer attributes are elements I wanted to see more of in the first film, and I clearly got my wish: seeing more of Asgard. It's a beautiful setting, and the whole cast of supporting characters (in that world and in ours) are back and looking their best - especially Tom Hiddleston. The enemy has interesting aspects and ship designs that could rival anything in the Star Trek universe. Some clever fighting sequences and a crushing final blow was certainly sweet to witness as well. It's hard to shake a stick at the visual aspects, especially the most epic viking funeral ever seen on the screen.
(And no, I won't say who died - that would be a spoiler).
But in the end, what this sadly boils down to is a lot of unoriginality in this film. Or rather, it takes a slew of old - if not overused - ideas and doesn't try to spin them in a fresh way, something that can be easily overlooked if all you're going for is eye and man candy (no shame in that, right?). This includes the worlds aligning, a one-dimensional villain, and character traits inconsistent from the original. But these are the tip of The Dark World's woes. There's witty lines and good humor, sure, but half of the jokes try too hard. Several fantastic avenues could have been explored that never were, including the anticipated Thor and Sif dynamic. You can't have Sif give Jane a jealous look and forget to resolve that conflict! Most disappointing of all was Thor's metamorphosis from a hammer-wielding hulk with epic, loveable anger issues into a limp, love-sick puppy. Not since Spider-Man 3 have we seen a hero become so mopey.
The absolute best thing about this film is Loki - hands down - who alone holds the consistency stick and is worthy of theater admission. This might as well have been Loki's movie, since he clearly stole Thor's thunder, even when Loki wasn't present in the scene.
He's sly like that.
Thor: The Dark World suffers most from the "let's rush and get this done so we can make loads of money" sequel treatment, sacrificing story for banking on hype - but it's still a likable and cozy fit in the hero movie universe ... and the shallow end of the Marvel canon.
*By Movieweb's Diaigma - resemblance to other reviews is coincidental*